Hear Dr. Rowe discuss her passion for autism spectrum disorder.
INTERVIEWER: Tell me more about your passion for autism spectrum disorder.
SUBJECT: I have listened to many, many, many parents who were in a panic about what is going on with their child. In the past week, I've had a conversation with a young woman who has a 10-month-old child and she's noticed things that are different about this child that she has concerns. And some of the red flags are the same red flags that autism would indicate.
So I have spent significant amount of time on the phone. She's going to come in here and I'm going to take a look to see what's going on. But it's absolutely devastating for the families and so difficult and confusing because when a child is born, you think as a parent, you have this picture into the future of how that child's going to turn out.
At some point, they're going to play sports. They're going to be in clubs at school. They'll have lots of friends. Yeah, they'll struggle with a little bit of teasing and different things that happen with kids but ultimately, they'll graduate high school and go on to college and then get married and have children and a great job and this long list of things that they can look off in the future.
And as soon as they start to think that maybe their child has autism, all those things just stop. So now they're looking at the kid's future through a dark curtain where they can't see anything into the future. And because of this and how difficult it is for families, it takes a special person to work in this field, someone that is really willing to give a lot of themselves and concentrate a lot, an enormous amount of effort, on to making a difference in the lives of these families and the children that are affected.
So building this program is for truly special people who want to make a difference. One of the things I love about my job at the university is that I feel like I'm making a difference, a really meaningful difference, in the lives of these families. So it's really rewarding and I think students who study in this program are going to find the same thing.
It's very noble to want to go into the autism field but you better figure out whether or not you like it because it does take a lot of self-perseverance-- a lot of thinking of things in new ways. If it doesn't work one way you've got to try it another way and maybe another way and another way. But eventually, you find the way to reach that child.
So it takes a lot of creativity and an ability to reflect on what you're doing and what you can do better. And there's a lot of great people out there who would be very drawn to this field for that reason, because it does provide a lot of autonomy and a lot of ability to constantly be learning new things.